Understanding The Enemy Within

Andy MurrayChapter Four


“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War


What you are going to do first is understand your enemy. Your enemy, now cornered, knows he cannot beat you straight up. He’s going to get resourceful, and he’s going to wait for you to take your eyes off of him.

He is a very patient enemy, and the moment you let your guard down he’s going to nip at you to try to get you to go away, much like that cornered dog. You’ve got him 90% beat, and he’s clinging to life.

In order to accomplish our goal of capturing and turning our enemy into our slave, we need to understand how he operates.

This is crucial.

Once you know how he operates, you will be able to predict his behavior. Your enemy’s behavior is predicated on his emotions.

Emotions dictate and dominate 100% of this beast’s behavior.

All of it.

None of the enemy’s behavior is affected by anything else, just emotion. Now that you know his behavior is based on pure emotion, you have something you can put your hands around. Something you can study.

Something you can predict.

Two Emotions and the Truth

There are two emotions that this beast relies on to survive and do battle.

Those emotions are desire and fear.

That’s it.

Desire and fear.

Let’s talk for a moment about these two emotions and how they cause the enemy to behave.

Let us suppose that you have a tennis goal of _________________.

We’ll call this desire your ‘True Desire’.

Let us then suppose that the enemy knows this.

The enemy knows your True Desire.

With me so far?


Now the enemy is crafty.

Since he knows your True Desire, and his mission is to stop you from getting your True Desire, he will do anything he can to stop you from achieving it.

Why is this?

It is because the enemy, your ‘other self’, is diametrically opposed to everything that your True Self desires.

That’s why he’s your enemy.

We need to stop for a moment right here. You must be able to accept some Truth up to this point:

1.) The enemy (your other self) is out to stop you from getting your True Desires.

2.) The enemy is crafty. Since he knows your True Desire, and his mission is to stop you from getting your True Desire, he will do anything he can to stop you from achieving it.

Acceptance and Your True Desire

It is crucial that you are up to accepting those realities. If you are unable to accept this, you need to spend some time with yourself in the mirror.

Whether you accept those realities or not doesn’t change them, but it will change your perception of what you can do about them, and that is where the rubber meets the road.

Getting back to our suppositions, you stated that you have a tennis goal of __________________.

You have thought about this for quite awhile now, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

I won’t pretend to know your particular tennis goal, but I’m pretty close to knowing why your tennis game isn’t where you want it to be.

Real close.

So close, in fact, that I could give you five reasons why you never reached your true tennis potential – and I’d be right – along with about 10-20 other reasons that you can come up with in your own if you’re honest.

But have no fear.

This is part of the process.

You know and I know that regardless of the reasons, your game is not where you want to be.

That’s okay, as long as you are committed to getting it where you do want it to be. And that’s where your True Desire comes in.

Your True Desire is the product your True Self

When you let yourself daydream about making the varsity tennis team, winning the Club Championship, qualifying for that big tournament, hitting that perfect serve that you dream of, or even just beating that here-to-fore ‘unbeatable’ opponent, that is your True Self reminding you of your True Desires.

The enemy is trying to destroy your True Desire for a variety of reasons and in a multitude of ways.

There are several reasons why the enemy is successful at this.

The first and foremost reason that the enemy is successful at destroying peoples’ True Desire is this – get ready – most players don’t know what their True Desire is!

Earlier we made a supposition that your True Desire was to accomplish a certain goal within your tennis game.

Simple enough.

 However, it’s so simple that it’s too simple.

Read that again.

Your True Desire is too vague, and is not specific enough.

Your True Desire must be extremely specific if we are to:

1) Keep the enemy cornered, for now, and

2) Capture the enemy and make him our slave.

What – Exactly – Do You Want?

You are asking me “Why does my True Desire have to be so specific?”

I will answer that question with a command: “Tell me what you want!”

Most people have a very hard time doing this.

Most people let the enemy speak for them when they answer this question, by immediately giving control over to him and allowing him to rattle off a list of things they DON’T want.

Suppose I were to ask you to quickly name ten jobs that you would hate to have.

You could list those ten jobs in 60 seconds or less.

If I were to then ask you what your one dream job would be, it would take you a lot longer than 30 seconds.

Even if you knew what it was, describing it alone would probably take you at least a minute.

Why is that?

It is because your other self has been calling the shots.

( In the next chapter, we’ll investigate why this is happening, and what you’re going to do about it; but for the mean time, I’ve got a very personal story for you.)

Now this next part gets long, and if you read it you will become familiar with a good deal of my ‘tennis life’.

It is meant merely to show you what my experience was like when I went ‘all in’ trying to become the best tennis player I could.

‘Bit By the Bug’

August, 1986 – It’s the waning days of my last ‘free’ summer, and I’m about to start my senior year of high school.

I’m shooting a basketball at Madison Park, and some kid wants me to hit tennis balls with him.

I say ‘sure.

I’m hooked.

I mean I really got the bug.

“Here is something I can be good at. Here is something that will make people stand up and take notice of me. Here’s how I’ll get my mom a new car. Here is my way out of a life of poverty. These tennis player guys make millions. It can’t be all that hard…”

I declared my intention that very day, that I would become a professional tennis player.

Nothing was going to stop me!

I vividly imagined what it would be like to be cruising around in my new BMW that I would, of course, be able to afford with my millions in tournament winnings.

I had absolutely no doubts whatsoever…

I beat tennis balls against a brick wall at Garfield Elementary school every night after I got off work from Burger King on the corner of Madison Avenue and West 117th Street at 10:00pm till about 1:00 am, then up at 5:00 am to do it again until 7:00 am, then off to school, nap in study hall, and repeat the cycle, all through the dead of winter, bringing a snow shovel with me to shovel away the snow in the parking lot of the school so the ball could bounce on the asphalt.

I was living with my now single mom and little brother in a two bedroom apartment on Detroit Avenue. My mom made $7.50/hr as a typist at Penton Publishing.

I was trying to play a rich man’s game, and I had no money and no ‘tennis coach’.

(I did have a mentor I met at the park named ‘Mihai’, who was a former world-class table tennis player from Romania. He showed me things about tennis that I never would have realized unless I would’ve had the money for a ‘real’ coach. He was a good man.)

I read every book on tennis I could and watched every tournament on television, trying to learn how the pros hit the ball, and what strategies they used on the court.

In March, three months from graduating, and six months after I first picked up a tennis racket, I went out for the Lakewood High School tennis team.

In qualifying, I beat five out of the six starting players, played in the #2 position, was named to the all-conference team, and received the Most Improved Player award at the end of the season in June, 1987. I lost in the Conference finals, and as a punishment to myself I vowed not to cut my hair until I won a tennis tournament.

Since I got decent grades and really didn’t care about it, I also decided to skip my High School graduation to play in a tennis tournament.

After all, becoming a professional tennis player was my True Desire at that time.

In August of 1987 I picked up my High School diploma from the secretary’s office at Lakewood High School.

I spent the summer traveling all over the Midwest going to tennis tournaments with my mom and little brother in our orange 1976 Plymouth Roadrunner, eating warm bologna sandwiches, drinking warm Kool-aid, and sleeping in the car (no money for motel rooms) with the windows rolled down because of the heat. I woke up every morning with bugbites all over, but somehow managed to get some second-place finishes in the tournaments.

Off to College…

The next month, September, I walked on to the Cleveland State University tennis team, an NCAA Division 1 team, and qualified for the second spot.

By May of 1988 I had gone on to finish 2nd at the NCAA AMCU-8 Conference Tennis Championships in singles and doubles with my doubles partner Tim Muccino.

I was named to the AMCU-8 All-Conference Team.

In June I played in three tournaments and Qualified for the1988 United States Tennis Association Public Parks Nationals to be held in Pasadena, CA in July.

I made it to the quarterfinals.

In August of 1988 I spent every last plugged nickel I had on moving out to Mesa, Arizona so that I could practice yearround in a warm climate, because I couldn’t afford the 40 bucks an hour that the indoor tennis clubs charged for court time. I rented a small studio apartment on Southern Avenue and worked as a towel boy for $3.75 an hour at the Western Reserve Club in Tempe.

I didn’t have a car, so I rode my bike back and forth to classes, practice, work and then home. Ramen noodles, peanut butter sandwiches and eggs were the staple of my diet as they were cheap and nutritious. Just the right amount of fat, protein and carbohydrates (or so I thought!).

A month after I got there, I won an amateur tournament in Tempe, AZ over my new college teammate and good friend Celin Serbo.

Good thing, too.

My hair was halfway down my back!

Finally got to cut it- yeah!

By the following March, I had finished the tennis season for MCC undefeated in my conference and region in singles and doubles with my partner Bryan Kobie.

I ended up winning the Arizona Community College Athletic Association Championships and NJCAA Region One Championship titles in singles and doubles, and was voted to the ACCAC All-Conference Team and the NJCAA All-Region Team.

At the beginning of the season, our coach, Mike Henneberry, hadn’t given our team a chance in hell of doing what we did. But here I was, the new guy, pushing everyone on that team to demand more of themselves, and I had some teammates pretty pissed off at me when I first met them; but they came around.

I ended up receiving the Mesa Community College Most Inspirational Player Award for the 1988 -1989 school year.

Do I tell this story to try and make me look good?


I tell it to show what is possible, even for a broke skinny kid who grew up in the city and started playing the game late.

Lessons Learned

As time wore on and the tennis tournament qualifiers continued, I had a moment of clarity.

After waking up from a nap, while waiting for my match to be called at the USTA National Hard Court Championships in Cleveland, Ohio I realized that the dream was over.

Robbie Weiss, who had won the NCAA Tennis Championships while a senior at Pepperdine University in 1988, was not even close to making it in the pros.

Ditto for Al Parker of the Georgia Bulldogs, and he won 25 National Junior Titles – more than anyone in US History. He was sort of like the Tiger Woods of junior tennis in the 1980’s, but he never ‘broke through’ in the pros.

Only a few of the U.S. players who broke ranks early and turned pro young were still there on the pro tour in any real capacity; Agassi, Sampras, Chang, Courier and a few others.

Luke and Murphy Jensen were cracking skulls in the doubles, but that was really about it. Everybody else was playing the journeyman tours in Malaysia, India, and the Middle East.

My goals had been realistic up to that point, but that was it. I didn’t have the money, the coaching, the physique or the talent to make it in ‘the bigs’, and that was a tough pill to swallow.

I hadn’t really laid out a plan on exactly how I would get to the pros; I figured if I just kept winning every tournament I entered that the rest would take care of itself. That ‘non-plan’ might’ve actually worked, too; problem was, I wasn’t winning. I just didn’t have the tools to win at that level.

I wasn’t physically gifted enough. I got good at tennis pretty damn quick and even now, over 20 years later I can bang a serve in the 125-135 mph range; but when you’re trying to play pro…you’re talking about the best players on the planet.

People with timing and footwork that’s just flat-out better than yours.

People that have invested at least a decade playing nothing but tennis and have the physical ability, talent money and coaching to get the job done.

I had laid it all out there, but far too often came up dry in the pre-pre-qualifiers, pre-qualifiers and qualifiers I played in.

This is most people’s worst fear.

Read that again.

Most people are extremely hesitant to put in the effort required to find out just how good – or not so good – they really are at something.

The results are never guaranteed.

If they were, would we even play the game?

It is this ‘uncertainty’ that we seek when we walk onto the courts.

“Can I really do it?”

“Can I pull it off?”

Embracing this ‘uncertainty’ and still being ‘okay’ with the results is the toughest thing in the world to do.

Staring at this now from my ‘rear view mirror’, I can see that at least I had the guts to put forth the effort and reach my potential.

When it was all said and done, four years of hard work had gotten me nothing except some trophies, medals, certificates and some credits at college – at least on the surface.

Deep down, however, I had honed some very valuable skills.

I did a little selfassessment in the fall of 1990 and came up with a list of things that I felt I had learned from the Great Tennis Experiment.

1) I discovered what it was like to find something I was passionate about and follow it.

2) I learned that if there was something I wanted and if it was coming from my True Desire, I would risk almost anything to get it.

3) I learned that my will skills had been honed through a series of small victories.

I had the will to stick it out in Arizona for another year until I finished my Associate’s Degree, but I had spent every cent of money that I had earned cooking at the Denny’s on Baseline Road in Tempe, and from teaching tennis on the side.

I had spent it all on equipment, travel, tournament entry fees, rent, hotels, food, school, etc.

I had won countless little battles, winning tough matches, and paying my dues on the court. (In the end, I was so broke I had to sell my mint condition maroon 1977 Buick Riviera with a 403 Oldsmobile engine in it that only had 12,000 original miles on it for $400. Oh, to have that car back!)

It’s Not the ‘Gold’; It’s the ‘Getting’

Before I left Arizona, while waiting to get my usual flat-top haircut at the barber shop, I had read an article in a sports magazine about the Mills family, and how all their children were successful athletes.

Nathan, the oldest, and Hilary, the second-oldest, were both top-ranked speed skaters.

Phoebe had won a bronze medal in gymnastics at the 1988 Olympic games, and her younger sister Jessica had won the World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

They also had two younger adopted boys that both played hockey. I was so amazed at how all these kids were so successful in different sports.

In the summer of 1989 I wrote a letter to Chris Mills, the father of all these whiz kids, wanting to know what his secret was to raising a house full of over-achievers. I got a letter back a couple of days later and what struck me most was what he said they kept tacked to their refrigerator door. It was a sign that said “It’s Not The Gold, It’s The Getting.”

If I had gotten that letter four years earlier, that phrase would have dumbfounded me.

Before the Great Tennis Experiment, I always figured that winning was the answer to everything; money, a life of leisure, happiness…but those words reached me at the right time.

I learned that the journey was where my reward was.

Winning is just what happens while you’re focusing on getting done what’s in front of you.

When I think back to those times, being broke, eating day old donuts out of the dumpster at Dunkin Donuts, riding my bike mile after mile, day in and day out to work and practice, and the hours of workouts on the court, a smile always comes across my face.

I had put it all out there.

Was it worth it?


In the next installment, I’ll show you how perspectives and perceptions will help you look backward – so you can move forward – to getting your tennis game to the next level!

– Kyril

P.S. A lot of you have taken advantage of our digital download offerings, and have sent us some really cool emails thanking us for offering that option. From us to you – you’re quite welcome! If you haven’t checked out those options yet, just scroll up the page and you can view the bundle and single download offerings we have available. Make it a great day!


  • jay halpern

    December 5, 2013

    Very impressive story. Fantastic and inspiring perspective.

    It is always the journey.

  • Pete

    December 4, 2013

    Hi coaches,

    Downloaded 4 of the videos and each of them contain golden nuggets that I’d have been flapping about in the dark for years trying to discover. Best coaching advice out there thanks guys. I can’t wait to get out there and practice it now!

    Cheers, Pete from England

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